I guess my great love of trees stems from spending my childhood years until age 11 living in the London suburbs. When your world is a concrete & metal jungle you appreciate all the softness of Nature. Grass becomes important, trees even more so. Everything I used to love involved being close to the little pockets of Nature that existed – be it my Nan’s back garden or one of the local parks.
My favourite tree was the one growing right outside our house, a Lime if I recall, popped into an ugly hole in the pavement & caged. I watched it through the Seasons. It seemed a symbol of strength & yet gentleness with its trunk so straight & tall & leaves that rustled musically in the breeze. I loved the huge trees that had grown so strong & tall along busy roadsides that their roots had actually pushed up the tarmac, which as a child you considered to be one of life’s toughest materials as the cause many a scraped knee or cut elbow. The triumph of tree over manmade ugliness wasn’t lost to me even then. Many of my happiest childhood memories relate to time spent near trees. A picnic in the park. A school field trip to the woods clipboard in hand, marvelling at all the varied plants, fungi & animals I saw. A drive in the countryside with dear grandparents along magical roads framed by arching trees that dappled the sunlight & made it dance.
Now I’m all grown up (on the outside at least!) & follow a solitary Pagan path in life; trees have new spiritual meaning for me. They connect my heart & soul to both the elements of Earth & Air. They help me root myself to the earth & yet lift my head up to the sky. They reflect the changing faces of the Goddess through the Seasons & they provide a habitat for many of Mother Nature’s precious creatures. Pagan religions have always recognised the importance of trees & include tree symbolisms such as the Oak King, who rules over the light part of the year from Yule to Midsummer, and the Holly King who rules over the dark part of the year from Midsummer to Yule. Certain tree species have special meanings, such as the Yew which has special connections to the ancestors, the Rowan which has properties of protection & the Willow which symbolises female energy & the lunar cycle.
For me, just standing underneath a tree & letting its majesty & magic work its way into my being, is to de-stress, shake off the dust of my modern day life & to connect to Mother Earth. To lean against the rough bark of a favourite tree is to feel embraced by a friend. To wander through a whole wood or forest is almost to be transported to another dimension. Woodlands have a whole atmosphere & magic completely of their own. The ancient trees whisper words of wisdom to me, while the saplings which have burst forth from the undergrowth just spill with the joyful excitement of new life. Woodlands are alive with plants & creatures. I first learned to stand still & listen in woodland. If you stop still & allow yourself to melt into your surroundings suddenly a myriad of creatures show themselves to you. Birds, mammals, insects – all there to be discovered if you just show respect & reverence. Sometimes woodlands fill me with a sense of calm& peace & sometimes they fill me with such a rush of joy & inexplicable adrenaline that I just want to run & shout & whirl!
Woodlands & forests are a National Treasure. Woodlands & forests play a significant part in making our country what it is, an island incredibly rich in flora & fauna. It is right that those that are publicly owned remain so. It is right that every single one of us should have access to them. It is right that they are nurtured & protected for future generations.
Take time to read about what the Government is planning, ponder on its devastating & far reaching consequences & please do take action.
Sara Burton (mumsmuddyducks)